Nothing can ever prepare a parent for losing their son at an early age.
But the Nicholls family has been determined to celebrate 16-year-old Danny’s life by turning his birthday and anniversary into big charity fund-raisers.
Four-and-a-half years ago everything changed for the Nicholls family.
On December 10 2012, 16-year-old Danny Nicholls collapsed and died at home. Doctors were unable to explain what caused his death, but it was likely he suffered a seizure.
Every year since, on his anniversary and his birthday, the Nicholls family have held charity events in his honour. So far they have raised more than £8,000 and are hoping to smash their £10,000 target by holding one last celebration to mark what would have been his 21st birthday.
Danny’s mum, Lorraine, who works part time in the lounge at Wigan’s DW Stadium, says: “We feel it is Danny’s legacy to help people. He was always there to support others, so we want to help people just like he did.
“He would be proud of us all for doing this. After four-and-a-half years we decided we wanted to end on a high and a special birthday - Danny’s 21st - seemed an appropriate time. With four anniversaries and four birthdays we have raised £4,000 for different charities including CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and CHAMPS Appeal which supports children with bowel cancer after Danny’s nephew, Jacob, was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease.”
The fun day will take place on Sunday June 25, at Coppull Leisure Centre, starting at 12.30pm, with stalls, a beer tent, trampoline, tombolas and a raffle. All funds raised will go towards Derian House Children’s Hospice.
Those in attendance will include his parents, Lorraine and Eric, as well as his sisters Louise Brookes and Leanne Clarke, and his nieces and nephews Harry, seven, Isabel, three, Jacob, four, and Max, two.
There will also be events at Danny’s former schools on Monday, June 26 – Danny’s birthday. Lorraine says: “There will be penalty shoot-out at Danny’s former school, Duke Street Primary, in Chorley, where I work as office manager; Southlands High School will hold a non-uniform day and Runshaw College held a collection at the Leyland Festival. Danny was also at Coppull Parish School for a short while and I know they are also doing something for him. I play netball with Chorley Magpies with Whitton Netball League and members will be wearing silly socks during games. I also work in one of the lounges at DW Stadium, so Wigan Warriors are also arranging a collection.
“The family would not have got through this without the support of everyone. They have been there for us and helped to raise so much money. Royal British Legion raised funds for Danny’s funeral and one of my netball friends raised £200 for a plaque to go in the crematorium with an Xbox control printed on, as he loved playing computer games.”
Lorraine adds the family will never get over losing Danny and remember him every day. She says: “Danny was simply perfect. He was a beautiful person both inside and out and we miss him every single day. We can’t believe he is not here. I don’t think we will ever be the same again. Since Danny died his sisters have had babies - Isabel, three, and Max, two. We talk to them about Danny and show them photos. They will grow up knowing who he is.”
Lorraine admits the family is looking forward to the fund-raiser on Sunday, but they will find it tough. She says: “As Danny’s birthday approaches I get emotional.
“I am dreading waking up on his birthday and him not being here. This would the time he should be going out with his dad for a pint.”
His dad Eric, a long distance lorry driver, adds: “Danny touched so many lives. He was a true gentleman and a loyal friend. If anyone had a problem they would always talk to Danny.
It is good to be giving something back to such a worthwhile cause in memory of Danny as he was so big-hearted and would do anything for anyone. It’s a fitting tribute to mark what would have been a landmark birthday for our very special son.”